New TV Series: ThunderCats 2011 Review
Once in awhile, I experience a tinge of nostalgia for some of the old cartoon shows that I loved to watch. There were several of them that captured my imagination and even now, I can picture myself as a child glued to the television and watching an episode of G.I. Joe, or SilverHaws, or this beloved classic: the tale of the ThunderCats, who live in Thundera. Some of those shows from the 80’s would never really stand the test of time. When I look at SilverHawks now, I realize that the show was complete garbage. The same isn’t true for the ThunderCats. It is the kind of show where you hope that, if they remake it and decide to mess with our precious childhood memories, that they do it correctly. That is precisely what they did with this new show.
ThunderCats first aired on July 29th, 2011 and we are now four episodes in. To me, it is entirely reminiscent of how the old show used to be. The characters were immediately recognizable, with just a hint of Japanese anime style thrown in. The show is beautifully animated. You get the feeling that the animation studio watched the original ThunderCats battle Mumm-Ra’s army week after week.
Admittedly, I was one of those skeptics who thought that this might desecrate the memory of the beloved ThunderCats. The two part pilot episodes assured me that my cynicism was unfounded. A sigh of relief escaped my lungs soon after the camera panned up during the opening scene to reveal the ThunderCats’ stronghold in Thundera. Having never seen the pilot episode for the original series, I only knew of Thundera from the stories and legends the cats told one other, recalling the glory days of their old Camelot. And indeed it was glorious. It made it feel like I finally received the honor to visit the majesty that once was.
The plot constantly explored the relationships between characters. If there was one thing that was most memorable about the ‘Cats, it was how their interactions unfolded. They were always in competition with one another, all perfectionists with their own art. At least, all the adult cats were. Wiley Kit and Kat were portrayed as kids who really couldn’t’ve cared less, and that’s fine. Liono gets introduced as a prideful young prince still unsure of his own ideas and abilities. It’s the same Liono from the original: petulant, aggressive, proud, stubborn, yet uncertain about whether he should be the rightful heir to the throne and title of the Lord of the ThunderCats. He’s even a little sissy about using the Sword of Omens. In fact, my one critique about Liono falls on the original, not the new one: The old Liono looked too old. He looked like a grown man and with all that whining, it just felt like he’s some middle-aged dude who never grew up. In the reboot, his much younger appearance makes me want to cheer for him and his hard fought victories instead of roll my eyes at a grown ass cat-man who shouldn’t be that lacking in confidence.
Cheetara and Tygra fell right into the memory slots of my brain just right. Cheetara still had that attractive nature to her, while maintaining a matronly side. Tygra’s arrogance exceeds that of Liono’s; let it be known that he thinks his leader is unfit for the role almost the entire time. But he is loyal to the crown and to Thundera, just like the original. Panthro’s character wasn’t explored much in this episode. He actually does not get introduced until the fourth episode, which just aired last Friday. It’s worth the wait; his badassery was never lost. And then, there’s Snarf. I still want to punt Snarf into the next episode.
The two episodes that followed the pilot were filler for the most part. To me, this is welcome. ThunderCats was never a series that demanded weekly viewing, lest the plot become hard to follow. Each show in the original saga was fun to watch because they were able to stand on their own. Yes, they furthered the storyline, but that was never the main focus within the individual episode. The originals followed a formula: Mumm-Ra (or whatever baddie) wakes up and cooks up some scheme to go after the cats, or some down-trodden people are in need of some rescuing. We get to watch our heroes do cool things on the screen. I mean, their technique is always excellent against lizardmen. But, in the end, when things become bleak and you don’t think they’ll pull through to another day, Liono pulls out the Sword of Omens, equipped with the Eye of Thundera. Then we hear those fateful words. Fateful for Mumm-Ra, and the Ancient Spirits of Evil:
If you loved the ThunderCats before, you should watch this show. This is comfort.